Have you ever experienced the luxury of United’s Global First front cabin on an international flight? If not, you better do so soon, because your options to get a Global First seat will be shrinking over time.
All of the new intercontinental aircraft that United has on order — including Boeing 787-8s, 787-9s and its upcoming Airbus A350s — are being delivered without Global First cabins. United’s 767-300 fleet currently has two-class and three-class configurations, but that will change.
“Our three-cabin 767s are going through a modification that includes conversion to a two-cabin configuration,” with no more Global First, a company spokesman confirmed to TravelSkills.
But he noted that the Global First cabin that’s currently on “a few dozen” 777s and 747s “will continue to be on United aircraft for some time.” United, like other airlines, is gradually phasing out the remaining 747s in its fleet.
Last summer, before his sudden firing, United CEO Jeff Smisek told a European trade publication that Global First’s days were numbered. International first class service, Smisek said, “is a money-loser, and we will be eliminating it over time.” Apparently the change in leadership at United has not affected that policy.
Smisek added: “The problem is that it takes a lot of real estate, and people are not willing to pay for that. I suspect the other carriers, apart from the subsidized Gulf airlines, would say the same thing.”
As for keeping United’s international product compatible with its Star Alliance partners, that’s a toss-up. For example, Air Canada eliminated international first class, but Lufthansa thus far seems committed to keeping it.
Delta eliminated its first class section on overseas flights several years ago, and last year rebranded its business/first hybrid product DeltaOne.
Readers: Do you think international first class service has a future? Are improvements in international business class cabins making first class unnecessary?
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